Did you know that the food that you eat can either support your immune system or help to suppress it.
But are there other factors that can affect your immunity in a similar way to food?
The answer is, yes!
While your diet does have an important role to play in immune health, it’s not the be-all and end-all for it.
There are dozens of different factors that can help to influence your immune system and help to provide health benefits outside of food!
Below for you are a few of the factors that can affect your immune system (so you can start working on them yourself).
Moving your body
As if you need another reason to head to the gym or your favourite dance class?
Moving your body is good for your immune system.
In fact research has found that regular exercise can help to enhance your immune function over time.
In fact, if you're exercising frequently you may even help to protect yourself from catching a cold over winter!
Even little chunks of movement may help you, as long as you’re consistent.
And there's less evidence to show that being inactive can have a negative impact and help with weakening your immune system.
But at the very least, not moving doesn’t do you any favours!
Managing your stress levels
Stress is an inevitable part of life.
But more and more people are dealing with chronic stress, which can have some nasty ongoing consequences for immunity.
This can make you more vulnerable to falling sick, and could even slow your recovery from illness or injury.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to relieve stress naturally, and many of them are free!
Cuddling a loved one, deep breathing, journaling, creating new smoothie recipes, meditating or practicing yoga are just a few examples.
You just have to find out what works for you and stick with it.
Improving your sleep
Having a poor night of sleep doesn’t just leave you feeling cranky.
It could also have a very negative effect on your immunity.
Insufficient or poor quality sleep can alter the genes that are associated with inflammation and immune function.
Even just one night of partial sleep deprivation can inhibit your immune response.
If you find yourself sniffly after a night out, your lack of sleep might be to blame!
Poor sleep often ties in with high stress in peoples lives too.
When you’re stressed, your sleep quality drops, and when you’re tired, you’re more prone to stress.
So you may benefit from working on these two areas, improving both your stress levels and sleep at the same time.
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How much time are you spending outdoors?
The majority of nutrients we need for immunity comes from the food we eat.
But there is one essential immune nutrient that we can’t just eat.
And this essential immune nutrient is vitamin D.
Although there are small amounts of vitamin D in foods such as chia seeds, eggs and oily fish, the majority of our vitamin D needs come from the sun.
That means that you need to plan to spend time in the sun to make sure you get your vitamin D fix.
Unfortunately, more people are living indoor lifestyles and thus becoming more and more deficient in vitamin D.
To get your vitamin D needs, you’ll want to head outside and bare some skin for at least a few minutes a day.
The best time for vitamin D production is between 10am and 3pm (unless it's cloudy or raining!).
But if you already have low vitamin D or you live in one of the southern states of Australia, you will likely benefit from a vitamin D supplement to help you hit your daily target.
Any predisposing factors you might have
A healthy immune system isn’t something that we’re born with.
Your genetics, early childhood and your current state of health can all play a role in how robust your immune system is.
Some of the factors that affect your immune health include:
- Whether you were a natural birth or C-section
- Whether or not you were breastfed
- If you have used medications that affect gut and immune health such as antibiotics or steroids
- Any current health conditions you have, particularly chronic conditions
- Your genetics (some of our immunity is actually inherited!)
Some of these are just a normal part of life that can’t always be avoided.
You can’t travel back in time and switch your genes or prevent disease.
But what you can do is make sure that any current conditions are well-managed.
This means you can also work on supporting your immune system and preventing future health concerns.
It's not all about food
Well, in some cases it's not all about food!
Eating healthily with one eye on nutrients is only half the battle when it comes to wanting to boost your immune system.
A measured approach works best and it's down to trial and error in the end.
If you are looking for more information about how you can help to boost your immune system with food there are already a few articles here on the Super Cubes blog for you to check out.
Here's a few for you to read now if you have the time.
- Are winter smoothies good for my immune system
- Will bingeing on healthy snacks help my immune system
- Can smoothies help me not to get sick
- What are immune boosting foods
Also, of course you could try adding the Super Greens Smoothie or Berry Digest Smoothie cubes to your daily routine if you wanted a quick and easy way to boost your nutrients outside of your main meals!